I’m in Los Angeles right now and am staying in Venice, which is the part of town where skateboarders, artists, fortune-tellers, and hippies like to hang out. As I was strolling down the Venice Beach Boardwalk, trying to avoid eye contact with the dozens of homeless people and hipsters, memories rushed through my brain. There was one I recalled particularly detailed. One that burned itself into my mind forever, one that I don’t like remembering.
It happened a few years ago when I first visited the City of Angels. I found myself in a disturbing situation, but thanks to my intuition, I got out of it. You might not believe in “sixth sense,” but I’m sure you all know what it’s like to encounter someone that gives you the feeling that something is “off” and you just want to get away from that person. The one that makes you uncomfortable purely by his presence.
I didn’t know the city at all that time, and just like in every place I ever visited, I was going to use public transportation to get around. My American friends thought I’d lost my mind when I told them about this plan. They weren’t even sure if a public transportation system existed in LA. Americans drive here, but there are many subway and bus lines all over the city and they are safe to use. Except when they are not.
I stayed in a hostel in a somewhat dodgy neighborhood and the nearest subway station was a fifteen-minute drive away. Thanks to the generosity of the staff, this wasn’t an issue as they offered a free lift from the station whenever you needed. You just had to call them and wait for the pick-up. I must say, though, you didn’t want to hang around by yourself too long in that neighborhood. It was right next to a highway and there was nothing around. No shops, no bars, no restaurants, no public phones, no gas stations, and no people. And not much street lighting.
I took the subway from Downtown LA. I was standing on the platform, waiting for the train, and minding my own business when I saw a creepy guy hovering around and glancing at me from time to time. He shuffled closer and closer, and his occasional looks became constant stares, which made me nervous. I couldn’t tell why, but I didn’t like the guy. He was giving off this unsettling vibe, and somehow I knew he was going to try to talk to me and was already thinking of ways of how to get out of an unwanted conversation. Surprise, surprise, a moment later, he stood right next to me and asked me where I was heading to. My inner alarm went off, but I didn’t want to seem nervous, so I told him I was going south. (Which he already knew based on the side of platform I was standing on.)
The train came and we both got on. I sat down sideways, facing the window to minimize the chance of having to look at him, but this didn’t make it more difficult for him. He moved to the closest seat that was looking into my direction and started staring at me. I could see him out of the corner of my eye and I could feel his gaze on me. He wasn’t looking away for a second. After a few minutes, I felt so uneasy that I had to move.
I didn’t want to be too conspicuous, so I lingered around for a while and pretended that I preferred standing, but then moved over to a seat farther away from him. I could still see him, which meant that he could see me too, and I felt his eyes on me again.
By then, I was sure that he was up to something. Something that couldn’t be good. I could feel it. I started to panic. I knew that he was going to get off at the same stop as me, and I didn’t even want to imagine what could happen once we were alone in that godforsaken neighborhood. I didn’t know what to do, but it was indubitable that I couldn’t let him get off at the same station because my inner alarm was screaming inside me. I felt sick.
We were only two stops away from my destination, so I needed to come up with something rather quickly. As the train was slowing down to approach the next station, I jumped up and made my way to the door. I kept an eye on the guy, who raised from his seat, too, and moved to the door closest to him while still staring at me.
The train stopped and the doors opened. I hopped off and stayed so close to the metro car that my left shoulder was rubbing onto the dirty metal surface. Other passengers were moaning because I was in their way, but I didn’t care.
The moment I heard the “Stand clear of the closing doors, please!” announcement, I jumped back on, clutching onto my backpack, which almost got smashed by the closing doors. My heart was pounding like it wanted to burst out of my chest. I was trying to calm down and looked through the door window. The guy stood right in front of me, staring into my face. His eyes flared, incandescent with rage, and I breathed a sigh of relief as we were moving along and his face was fading away into the distance.
Fancy another creepy story?